Wow, 1986… it’s unbelievable that King Kong Lives was a major motion picture release from that year. It was released in over 1000 theaters and yet more closely resembles a MST3K film than an actual film. It was horrible. Like if someone told me to write a King Kong script as quickly as I could, this might be what I would come up with as a first draft. There is motivation for NOTHING and the characters are caricatures. Just listen to this plot: the entire film is based on the premise that an Atlanta institution of higher learning is trying to bring King Kong back to life (last seen in 1976’s King Kong falling to his death off the World Trade Center buildings). And yet we have no idea why. They seem to indicate that whatever school obtains and studies the giant ape will somehow skyrocket to the top of the research ranks… but… but… why? It’s never answered. The artificial heart they made to revive him won’t work without a blood transfusion (because apparently Kong merely has heart failure from falling of the WTC) and so they conveniently find a female giant ape and bring her to Georgia. Predictably the two apes escape together and… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry I fell asleep cause this movie was terrible. Long story short is basically descends into a family drama with a lot of scenes involving the two apes creepily smiling at each other and hugging. Eventually Lady Kong (as she is credited) gives birth to an extraordinarily tiny baby the size of a normal gorilla. God damn! I literally recommend this to no one.
Like all King Kong films, King Kong Lives has a pretty solid setting for Settings 101. In this case we open with a nice intertitle letting us know that the film takes place 10 years after the events of the first film in Atlanta, Georgia at the Atlanta Institute. Whew. That’s a lot of settings for one little intertitle. It’s kind of funny that they made up a school for this film but even funnier that we are supposed to seriously believe that King Kong fell off the WTC, was critically injured, and then survived for ten years waiting for a heart transplant. Jesus. This film is a mess. It’s setting is not though. It rockets to a B- by simply nodding to the audience and acknowledging that we are in George. Atlanta is mentioned a few more times, but not enough to get up to B level. Ever since introducing Settings 101 we’ve actually had shockingly few films where the setting was difficult to ascertain. Convinces me that if we went back to the older films we could find a lot of hidden gems. Maybe even a Delaware or South Dakota that the world has yet to discover (it’s my dream).
King Kong Lives? Well they should have let this movie die! Booooom, NY Post you did it again! We watched what some people might call a movie. Other people might refer to it as something more akin to lighting millions of dollars on fire. Let’s get into it.
- The Good – Not much. At times the enormous animatronics are impressive. I would also say the two lead actors perform admirably all things considered.
- The Bad – What the Sound of Thunder is to bad CGI, King Kong Lives is to bad practical effects. Not only is this three years after Return of the Jedi as far as CGI is concerned, it is also four years after The Thing, a pinnacle of practical effect magic! We don’t like to harp on story too too much, but this is legit the absolute worst storyline you will watch outside of non-films like The Room. They are replacing King Kong’s heart ten years after his fall from the World Trade Center? He’s been in a coma for ten years!? They happen to find a female just in time?!? I’m not sure what happened in 1986, but there is something wrong with the movies they produced in that year. Oh wait, now I remember, this is the year of Maximum Overdrive … so cocaine happened.
- The BMT – In my opinion, no. It is very strange, but the Official Razzie Movie Guide features this movie and claims it is “hilarious”. But it is hilarious in the same way White Comanche with William Shatner is hilarious. You go: “Oh, hilarious, William Shatner is playing a half Native American and his own twin …. Welp this movie is boring”. Somehow this one weird ludicrous thing is supposed to sustain entertainment for hours, but for me it usually doesn’t. In this case? The absurd creepy smiles on the giant apes’ faces are supposed to be the clinchers. The apes are certainly funny for as few minutes. One hundred minutes though? Yeah, not so much. Boring movie, straight up. Although it is kind of fun it a Mystery Science Theater kind of way. Needs a commentary I think. Without it you’ll be left wondering “what am I doing with my life”. You can put that on the poster!
I’ll try to keep the game short. I was going to try and make a prediction about this film, but turns out a prediction of “this will be a garbage non-film and I will hate it” is no fun. So let’s remake the film! Sequel / Prequel / Remake: First, no Kong surviving. Garbage. No, instead, a research team has been scouring the world looking for evidence of other Kongs. Indeed, the extent to which the Skull Island inhabitants worshipped the Kong suggested its kind must have been around for many years prior to his death. And they succeed, a female Kong is located and brought back to the states. But the research team’s intentions are less than honorable! Indeed, they plan on dissecting and experimenting on the Kong in an attempt to unlock the secret to its gigantism and age. Upon the discovery that the Kong is pregnant a primatologist who accompanied the team frees the Kong into the wild. A chase occurs down the California coastline whereby the Kong, ultimately surrounded and on the verge of death, gives birth and dies (mirroring the ending of the first film). The idea would be a trilogy with the third continuing this story with the child. Would it be great? Prob not, but at least you cut out the ludicrous heart surgery storyline.